Tone Pot Wiring—am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by closedmri, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    I’ve come across some different ways to wire a tone cap, and I’m a little confused now.

    There are countless articles such as this one that show 50’s vs modern wiring, where the cap is connected to lugs on both the volume & tone pots in either scenario: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/29161-mod-garage-three-ways-to-wire-a-tone-pot

    And then there are videos such as this, which have the tone cap wired to the middle lug of the tone pot and grounded to the tone pot’s casing:

    I can’t seem to find any media that explains both methods or explains the differences between them. Are there certain wiring configurations that require one way or another? Am I missing some context or does the middle lug-to-ground method essentially work the same way as one of the other ways?
     
  2. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    you want to change something for a reason?
    maybe tell us that and then maybe some can give you a better advise what to try
     
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  3. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    A normal guitar Tone control (which is a treble cut) just consists of a capacitor and a variable resistor in series: that means part of the signal will flow through both resistor and capacitor to get to ground. It does not matter whether the resistor or the capacitor comes first.
    If the capacitor goes from the volume pot to the tone pot, then the cap comes first and the pot will have a lug grounded.
    If there’s a wire from the volume pot to the tone pot and then the cap goes from a tone pot lug to ground, often on the tone pot casing, then the resistor is first.
    Electrically — no difference.
    For manufacturing — you either have a capacitor and a pot with 3 solder joints, or a wire, a pot and a capacitor with 4 solder joints. Some manufacturers prefer to save a little money and take the first option.
     
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  4. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use the diagram for Tonerider pickups. No treble bleed as I use the volume and tone controls for that.
    That is no treble bleed, I have used them , but invariably take them out and only use one tone capacitor. They have a new diagram which use a 0.022uF capacitor ( older ones were 0.047uF0. I'd still use a 0.047 uF .they all work and are easy, unless you've never soldered before, then use one on Youtube and pause as you go along. Good luck.:)
     
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  5. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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  6. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    Makers these days generally use one of three common schemes for implementing the tone control. There are variations, such as a mid-cut control that uses a small inductor, and Reverend's 'bass contour' control. Hohner did a similar thing many years ago in their Pro series guitars, and before that, Gibson installed a rotary switch with multiple caps in a few of their high-end models.

    You can also tweak the pot value and type as well as the cap value to change how the control filters the upper frequencies. Here's a pretty good article on that.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/auditioning-tone-capacitors-part-ii-2

    and

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/auditioning-tone-capacitors-part-ii-1
     
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  7. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for all your responses! I’m going to look into the links posted.

    I didn’t want to get into specifics because I was more concerned about this discrepancy which I came across when I hit a road block in rewiring a guitar. The specifics are pretty long which is why I tried to just keep it simple, but here they are if you want to chime in and lend some advice.

    I’m working on a Kalamazoo KG-1 (one of those knock off Mustangs built by Gibson, this is one of the first few hundred that we’re made out of mahogany before they switched to MDF) with a Melody Maker pickup in it. The guitar is cool, but the pickup is wayyyyy to bright.

    When I opened it up it had 500k pots in it. I switch to 250k and it was still too bright. At this point I had wired in a .022uf cap 50’s style and had everything working fine.

    It may seem nonsensical to someone more experienced that I’d use 50’s style wiring in an overly bright pickup, but I was just experimenting and thought I’d prefer to keep my highs as I rolled down the volume as I always play all my guitars dimed because of the treble loss associated with turning down the volume in modern wiring.

    So no I’ve wired in 100k pots, as I thought it may help tame the highs even better. I guess old Silvertones used to use 100k pots for the same reason as their pickups were super bright. But I haven’t had any luck getting my tone pot to function with the new 100k pots I’ve installed. I switched between .010uf and .1uf and tried multiple different tone wiring configurations. I can hear static in the pot when I turn it (cheapos that I bought to experiment with), but nothing is happening. I suppose at this point I can guess the pot I put in was a dud and switch it out in hopes that I can get some tone pot action happening again.

    My goal is to have a darker starting point with low resistance pots, and a less dramatic difference when using the tone pot so I can fine tune my tone rather than completely transform it. I play rock music with the bridge only and my knobs dimed all the time. Thinking a .010uf would give me some variation that I could actually use.
     
  8. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for sharing these. I came across the first one and it definitely informed if not inspired my quest. The second one has got me thinking about a whole new can of worms. I’ve always just recycled my Fender ceramic pots or bought orange drop caps. Very interested in those bumble bees.



    As for the no load pot, I’ve wired one into another guitar and have had lots of fun with it. With this guitar it’s probably a no go since I’m trying to reduce the highs, but there’s no way you could have known that.
     
  9. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    maybe someone could give you advise in the value of the cap to use to just take that high away.
    and maybe even switchable with a pushpull ore mini switch to get normal and custom high cut.
    and maybe using another cable with more capacitance like the old curled would take off the over brightness?
    maybe using a EQ pedal?
     
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  10. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    I think for now an EQ pedal will be the way to go. And I’ve been meaning to get a curly cable. The body is so thin that the rout doesn’t have space for a push/pull pot unfortunately, though that would be fun because I’ve never really A/B’ed caps that instantaneously before.

    I switched out the pots and everything is working fine now. Unfortunately I think the pickup’s gotta go. The output is super low, even after I tried charging it with some N52 magnets, and by compensating for the brightness (maybe overcompensating) it now just sounds dull. I was hoping I could keep the pickup and make it more functional, but either these Melody Maker pickups really aren’t great or this one’s a dud.

    it looks cool though eh?

    0770385A-5EA0-4C7B-92AA-9BEE73369957.jpeg
     
  11. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    i understand you want o keep it original, so maybe try some other things?

    maybe you mention it already, but what did pickup height do for you?
    maybe change string brand?

    by the way, the behringer EQ 700 is a good knockoff of the Boss and way cheaper
     
  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Maybe this will help:

    Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 02.04.48 AM.png

    Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 02.05.37 AM.png
     
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  13. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    50s wiring (tone circuit connected to output of volume pot) gives a smoother volume taper and preserves highs better as you roll down the volume, but rolling down the tone control will affect your volume. The positions of the tone and volume controls are somewhat interactive and not as straightforward.

    60s wiring (tone circuit connected to input of volume pot) will lose highs as you roll down the volume, but the position of the tone pot does not affect the volume. The operation of both controls is pretty much independent and more predictable.
     
  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm not sure I'd call it "60s wiring". It's just not 50s. "50s wiring" is more of a label than an assertion of usage. Fender NEVER wired them this way, in any era. It's a thing that Gibson did for a while.

    The Premier Mag article has spawned so much confusion, and it must feature prominently in search results, because it seems to be linked everywhere. It says there are three ways to wire a tone pot. There are more than that, if you want to discuss things that don't make any difference to function. The implication of course is that all three ways are functionally different... and fact is, they're not. His so-called "Standard (modern)" wiring is electrically and tonally identical to his so-called "60s wiring".

    So, that entire article could be summed up as my second diagram above shows.

    This "article about nothing, with various errors" is not new for this PG author.
     
  15. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Bob! I have one of those! I think I’m kind of coming out of a big pedal phase and wanting to just get things right at the source to begin with. I may he chasing the unobtainable end goal of just being able to plug this thing in and have it completely blow me away like my ‘61 Melody Maker does (modded with 2 P90s, not the original pickup). The one that is my avatar.

    I love that guitar so much that it made me think this Kalamazoo, also being a Gibson-made student model with a mahogany body, was going to floor me. It’s taking a lot more work than expected, but I’m determined to get it to be player grade, or as close to it as can be.

    I think I will hang onto the original pickup just so I have it, but I found a BG Pickups MM90 that just went up for sale overnight in reverb for a good price and pounced on it. It’s even got a white top still so I can retain that contrast with the black pickguard.
    A0CEC888-A93B-438B-B471-49244B697EAD.jpeg

    As for pickup height, you can really only set it one way. At its maximum height it’s still farther off from the strings than it should be. They should have gone with a top mounted pickup, or maybe I can try that if this other one doesn’t work out.
     
  16. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    This is great. The visual makes it so much easier to understand what I need to know. I will definitely be saving this. I’m sure I’ll be able to share it with someone else down the line. Thanks!!!
     
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  17. closedmri

    closedmri TDPRI Member

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    In the article he says the “60s” style has better shielding than the modern style, and makes an anthropological guestimate on how modern wiring came to be that I can’t think of a rebuttal to and so I’m buying it. I actually chose that configuration because this pickup is really noisy and thought it might help. Didn’t do any testing to see if it did or not, and I won’t be claiming if it did or not, but I guess it was just a matter of taking my chances if all else is equal (sorry I had to say it)
     
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